The Value of a Soul

One of my students recently asked me if I would sell my soul for $50 million. 

I emphatically replied, “No, I most definitely would not.” 

They gasped wide-eyed, “But it’s FIFTY million dollars! You could buy anything you wanted!”

“My soul is worth far more to me than money,” I answered. “It’s not for sale at any price.”

“I’d sell mine! I need the money!”

“Do you know what kind of life you’d have afterwards?” I questioned.

“A rich one.”

“But another entity or person would own you and dictate your every move. You wouldn’t be YOU anymore, you’d be the pawn of someone or something else and your life as you know it would cease to exist.”

“That’s ok by me! My soul, it’s nothing, but money, money is everything!”

Our exchange left me disheartened, and I am struggling to find a way to show this student the immense value of their soul before our time together ends in a few short weeks. I’m even more disillusioned at realizing this is certainly not the only student in my classroom who believes his or her soul has no value.

As both a teacher and a lightworker, it is tremendously difficult to relate to such a mindset when my soul suggests I help when I can and to build someone up instead of tearing them down. I cannot grasp our culture’s ever-growing glorification of jackassery and shaming over compassion and empathy, nor the empty value placed upon “likes,” “followers,” and “influencers” who are driven by the almighty dollar instead of altruism.  

But this is what our world has become and the world our young people are growing up in.

What is another way my soul can model kindness and generosity when the mantra I repeatedly hear is, “What’s in it for me?”

How can I empower others, especially young people, in a society where perseverance or trying one’s best in the classroom are seen as detriments and the benefits from personal accountability and learning from failure are no longer revered? 

I’m sharing this with you today because I am confident that by putting it out there, I will attract a way to help my students be freed from the shackles of societal expectations and ego, and instead, spark their light so they can appreciate even a sliver of both their enormous potential and the abundant value of their souls.

I’m not giving up on any of them, for each has a uniquely vital and valuable light to shine in our world.

Please note that I intentionally used the pronouns “they” and “their” for confidentiality reasons. Thank you for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

The Value of a Soul” was posted on jillocone.com on January 23, 2022. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

As You Wish…

“As you wish.”

Most associate those words with Westley’s promise to Princess Buttercup in Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic film The Princess Bride.

However, Star Wars fans like me know those three words were first uttered on screen seven years earlier in the city of Bespin, the city in the clouds. I was nine years old when I heard the voice of the most spectacular bounty hunter in the galaxy speak those words in response to Vadar’s request that there be “no disintegrations” when hunting for the Millenium Falcon. 

As a little girl in the 1970s, I wasn’t a tomboy, but I also wasn’t a “girlie girl.” I fell in the middle, a misfit of sorts, and always sympathized with those toys relegated to the Island of Misfit Toys in the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” especially the polka-dotted elephant. It might surprise some that this blonde-haired, blue-eyed beach-loving writer and educator has had Jedi dreams and a desire to join the rebel alliance surging through her blood since childhood. I am not ashamed one bit about my love of Star Wars, which began the minute I first heard the London Symphony Orchestra blare the main title while I read the quintessential opening crawler announcing that it was a period of civil war and that “rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.”

Star Wars was deliciously different from anything I had ever experienced and provided me with a new way of seeing things. It was the first time I had been exposed to a strong woman who wasn’t being molded into a future wife or mother. Leia was a princess, that’s true, but she had a purpose much greater than her title. She wasn’t searching for a prince or seeking admiration. Instead, she was fighting for a cause she believed in with fierce determination and ultimate fearlessness.

Leia was my inspiration, she still is, and I adore her. 

I’ve learned life lessons from all the characters in the Star Wars franchise, but there’s one who stands above the rest, one who has lived in my heart ever since I first witnessed his on-screen swagger and cunning dauntlessness. 

Boba Fett.

The baddest-ass misfit mercenary ever to travel to the Outer Rim and beyond. 

Of course I bought into the supposed myth that after falling into the Sarlacc in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the Sarlacc spit Boba out because it could not digest his armor, a myth that circulated well before the Internet existed. There was no way someone as bold as Boba would meet his fate in such an undignified manner! I also loved seeing him as a youngster in Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones despite the devastating loss of his father, Jango, at the hands of Mace Windu, and was ecstatic at finding him added to Star Wars: A New Hope in 1997

Fast forward to the here and now. 

With the pandemic clouding our world over much of the past two years, Disney+ has provided me with a lot of levity and plenty of escapes from reality through exclusive series that tell the stories of many favorite Star Wars and Marvel characters.

Case in point: The Mandalorian. Din Djarin and Grogu are one hell of a duo, but my heart yearned to see my boy again…and wouldn’t you know, my wish was granted! I knew those were Boba Fett’s boots in Season 1, Episode 5 of The Mandalorian, and when my long-lost hero and his iconic ship Slave-1 finally graced the screen in Season 2, I went absolutely bananas. 

Boba the freaking Fett. 

He lived.

Or should I say, he lives.

Seeing him on-screen again (excellently portrayed by the ever-talented Temuera Morris, who played Jango in Attack from the Clones) in several Season 2 episodes with Fennec Shan at his side as they helped Din and Cara Dune protect Grogu pleased me to no end, but then the unbelievable happened: a credits scene in The Mandalorian’s season 2 finale episode depicted Boba and Fennec taking over Jabba the Hut’s throne on Tatooine then revealed that The Book of Boba Fett would be coming soon.

Holy. Freaking. Crap.

As I wished.

A little over a year has passed since that monumental Mandalorian moment, and today, thanks to the commitment and imagination of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (and a host of others), today I’ll be watching the season premiere of The Book of Boba Fett through the innocent eyes of that little, blond-haired nine-year-old. 

He is Boba Fett, and from what I’ve been told, he intends to rule with respect.

Today my dreams come true, and I shamelessly become a child once again.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“As You Wish” was posted on jillocone.com on December 29, 2021, with parts of it originally published in “A New Hope, Indeed,” on December 14, 2019 . Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Someday…

I tried to write a post this morning that I hoped would provide you with contentment and encouragement, but I feel like I failed. Here’s the best I can do …

Most of us have had to pivot our plans this holiday season, which left our hearts mourning the loss of so many cherished traditions. 

The magic…it’s been different for certain this go-around. Those who were able to celebrate the season felt it just as much as those whose plans are currently on hold. 

It’s not just you.

It’s not just me.

It’s all of us

We’re all in the same boat with COVID as our captain, and we need to do our best to keep ourselves and those we love safe.

It’s just how it is right now, but you know what?

Eventually, that COVID captain will retire. He will someday relinquish the helm and leave his boat tied up to the mooring forevermore.

And that will be an absolutely glorious day. 

We will once again be able to celebrate life’s little and big moments with those we treasure, and our sense of the value of the present moment will be earnestly renewed. Our hearts will be happier, our hugs will quadruple in warmth, and our souls will be teeming with joy and love tenfold. 

Someday, that day will come. My heart believes in it.

I hope your heart does, too.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“Someday” was posted on jillocone.com on December 26, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Published in “Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State”

I am beyond elated to announce that my piece titled “SynJersey” was selected for publication in Read Furiously’s forthcoming anthology Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State, which will be released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The book features essays, prose, photography, poetry, and comics, all of which explore the fascinating stories that make New Jersey and its people some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

I’m honored that my piece was selected for publication alongside many other talented writers and artists, as I don’t have to tell you how much the Garden State means to me.

From the Amazon listing:

The book you hold in your hand is as relaxing as a day at the Shore, as tense as the traffic you hit on the way down to get there, and as expansive as the Pine Barrens you find yourself lost in after that wrong turn off the Parkway. Stay Salty, the second volume in Read Furiously’s popular New Jersey Anthology series, once again reminds us of everything we love and hate (and love to hate) about the Garden State. Following the tradition of storytelling of The World Takes, Stay Salty features prose, poetry, comics, and photography that showcase the mysterious and fascinating elements that make up New Jersey and its inhabitants. Grab some salt water taffy and listen to voices from Sussex County to Cape May. Because in New Jersey, there’s always a story to tell.

Editors Stephanie Atzeni and Adam Wilson put forth their utmost effort in creating an anthology that is honest and beautiful.

To give you a bit of a teaser, here’s the first two lines of “SynJersey”:

Jersey.

She’s an addiction I simply cannot overcome.

You’ll have to buy the book to read the rest!

Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State can be ordered through any of the following links:

Click HERE to purchase through Read Furiously

Click HERE to purchase through Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to purchase through Amazon

Click HERE to purchase through Target

If you buy a copy, I’d be happy to sign it! I’m extremely grateful for your continued support!

Stay Salty!

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘Stay Salty: Life in the Garden Sate’” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on October 6, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

The Gift of the Forever Moment

If you happened to catch any of last night’s Field of Dreams game coverage, where the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox played the first ever MLB game in Iowa to honor the lasting legacy of the film “Field of Dreams,” perhaps you shed a tear at some point like I did.

Credit: Getty Images/Stacy Revere; posted by Newsday.com

Hopefully, you didn’t shed a thousand or more (and counting, I might add), like me.

Last night’s game was a throwback to a time when life was simpler and the good outweighed the bad. We collectively paused to enjoy a ball game between two teams, but there was more going on than just baseball.

And just like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” more was happening than just what we saw on the field.

It was a catharsis, an awakening, an emotional roller coaster ride highlighting the power of the present moment sprinkled with nostalgia and resulting in an experience unlike that of any other game I’ve ever watched.

The awe and wonder and excitement on each player’s face as they strolled around the original field and house from the movie set and the cornfields surrounding the play field… grown men looked like children with boyish grins full of innocence and authenticity, no matter which uniform they wore or how hard life may have treated them in the past.

We escaped society’s acrimony and noise for a few hours and, instead, focused on the gift of the forever moment and the treasure of a single day, as Kevin Costner so eloquently narrated in his introduction

Our imaginations are infinite..

Sculpting a baseball diamond from a farmer’s field in Iowa.

Longing for summer as seasons are painted on its canvas.

Once this game and this land touches you, the wind never blows so hard again.

“Hey, Dad?” Want to have a catch?”

“I’d like that.”

I’m Kevin Costner, and on this field, we once made a movie about dreams … of baseball and years gone by, and much more.

A tale of love, family, character.

The treasure of a single day.

America has embraced the heroes of our youth for over a century. Those who ran on grass so green it took your breath away…touching bases as white as clouds

Tonight, we pause time. 

In the warmth of August, two major league teams gift us the forever moment; the White Sox, the Yankees.

Come to our Field of Dreams and play ball.

Baseball united us last night, no matter what team we religiously cheer for, with every at-bat and every home run hit into the cornfield.

My team should have won, as the Yankees had the lead in the top of the ninth inning, but a swing by the Sox’s Tim Anderson scripted a Hollywood-style ending: a walk-off two-run homer to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, complete with fireworks.

Despite my team’s loss, I cheered and clapped and wept tears of joy because of the moment’s incredible magnitude, a culmination of the night’s immense emotions and how baseball, yet again, brought us all together.

“And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Terence Mann

It was baseball that gave us something to look forward to, a diversion from the dark days after 9-11, when the crack of Mike Piazza’s bat as he launched a home run that was heard around the nation and when Derek Jeter became “Mr. November.” Sidebar: I highly recommend watching ESPN’s “30 for 30: First Pitch,” if you have already seen it, which tells the story of President Bush throwing the first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the 2001 World Series. Politics aside, it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, one that truly captures the gamut of emotions we all felt as we tried to move on with our lives after such a horrific event.

It was baseball that provided a reprieve from lockdown last summer as MLB players were some of the first professional athletes to return to the field. Even with silly cardboard cutout fans filling some of the empty seats and piped-in fake fan noise, we looked to the return of baseball games as a step towards returning to normalcy.

It’s baseball stickers that fill my planner every autumn when the postseason, my favorite sports time of the year, begins. Even when my Yankees do not move on or outright miss the playoffs, I root-root-root for sometimes the home team and sometimes the visiting team as each player on every field pursues their childhood dream of winning the coveted world series ring. 

Back to “Field of Dreams”…

The movie’s premise about a ball field in the middle of a cornfield where ghosts convened to play America’s game is incredibly unbelievable, but that’s the beauty of the film.

Many of our dreams seem unbelievable, like Ray’s, but he did the impossible, the unconventional. He followed his dream, built the field, and they came.

Ray Kinsella made the unbelievable believable.

And 33 years after Ray built his field of dreams on the big screen, Kevin Costner led the Yankees and Sox players onto a neighboring field in front of 8,000 fans in the bleachers and millions of us at home, all because of the lasting impression of a single film with a universal theme.

How many of us can say that about our own dreams? How many of us are willing to put in the work necessary to do the unbelievable like Ray did and make our dreams a reality?

In the quintessential ending scene of the movie, Ray Kinsella and his father, John Kinsella, finally have a catch with each other, making their private personal dreams come true.

How many of us have an ongoing list of the undone things in our life? How many of us, when presented with the opportunity, will make our undone things done?

Behind Ray and John, a line of headlights stretching for miles makes its way to the field.

Ray built it, and not only did he come, but they came. How many of us actually listen to our intuition and attempt to do the impossible?

The Field of Dreams game was so much more than a game.

It was, indeed, like I was dipped in magic water.

It was a pause in time, a gift of the forever moment that amplified the power of the present moment.

It was a reminder of who I used to be, who I am, and most importantly, who I can be.

It was a reminder to love unconditionally and to always treat others with kindness and compassion.

It was a reminder to never lose that sense of wonder or awe in believing each day, each moment, is a treasure.

It was a reminder of a simple moment’s lasting magnitude, such as having a catch with someone we hold dear, or spending time with those we love doing what we love.

It was a reminder to pursue my dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, and to believe in the dreams of others.

It was a reminder of all that once was good and could be again.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“The Gift of the Forever Moment” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 13, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Letting The Light In

I’ve been writing little snippets of recollections on sticky notes all week long as I planned to post today about reaching the pandemic’s year milestone.

Yesterday, I threw them all into the trash bin.

Thinking about this time last year, as things rapidly developed and our lives changed minute by minute and the overwhelming fear that crippled me….well, it actually made me shudder with anxiety.

Instead of rehashing the traumatic truth about where we used to be and how we got here, I am celebrating the light that has entered through the cracks over the past year, cracks that were formally invisible to my eyes. 

Do I like our current situation? Absolutely not.

Do I miss everything that’s currently on hold? More than anything.

Did I think we’d return to “normal” by now? Of course I did. 

But over the past year, I realized that “normal” does not exist, nor does a “new normal,” which is one of the worst phrases to come out of this year-long reality.

The light, though…

Sun’s First Light – Taken September 2020

The light shines on the goodness that surrounds me, goodness I was formerly too blind to notice. 

The light beams on the moments I can safely spend in the company of loved ones and friends, and those moments have more meaning today than they ever have. The light will eventually beam and create more opportunities to make wonderful memories.

The light glistens on my watch and my planner to highlight the value of my time, and I’ve learned to decline requests for my time that do not enhance my well-being or serve my purpose.

The light coaxes the words out of my soul and onto my journal or my screen. Instead of fighting those words and holding them back, they flow and release me from my self-deprecating prison. Some are crap, and some aren’t, and I’m taking those that aren’t and creating what I hope helps others to know they aren’t alone.

The light brightens the sound of laughter coming from those I love most.

The light illuminates my purpose and my passion, and has allowed me to see meaning in and understand my journey here on Earth so far, especially the hardest times, the most difficult of days, and the failures and rejections. The light also illuminates a clear path to my future that’s full of experiences I want to have and dreams I will make happen. I’ll be sharing those experiences and dreams with you soon.

The light flashed on a vaccine opportunity that I originally believed was not an option for me because of my medical issues and led me to said opportunity with a smooth experience and limited side effects. My desire to have a life outweighs my aversion to the vaccine, and while my choice is right for me, I respect it might not be right for you.

The light radiates on my gratitude for those who have gone above and beyond to help us all and on my resolve to celebrate the lives of those who we’ve lost to this horrible illness.

The universe works in very mysterious ways. I know she guides me with breadcrumbs, most of which validate that I am in the right place at the right time and doing what I need to be doing at that moment. Case in point: when I sat down this morning to write this post, I put my music on shuffle. The first song to play was “Namaste” by Beastie Boys. A sampling of the lyrics:

…A cold chill of fear cut through me

I felt my heart contract

To my mind I brought the image of light

And I expanded out of it

My fear was just a shadow

And then I voice spoke in my head

And she said dark is not the opposite of light

It’s the absence of light

And I thought to myself

She knows what she’s talking about

And for a moment I know

What it was all about.

Songwriters: Horovitz Adam Keefe / Diamond Michael Louis / Yauch Adam Nathaniel / Nishita Mark Ramos. Namasté lyrics © Brooklyn Dust Music, Polygram Int. Publishing, Inc.

I know what it was all about.

As I said earlier, normal doesn’t exist. What does exist is change: Routines change. Circumstances change. Expectations change. Opportunities change. Schedules change. People change. Persevering while adapting to change is essential to survival.

I also exist, as does my purpose, and what hasn’t changed is my authentic desire to thrive despite change and to strive for my words to speak to others.

The fresh air and sunshine, the clouds and the snow, the singing birds, the ocean’s rollers and mountain’s peaks, and all of nature’s miracles, are still here a year later. They always have been, and they always will be if we allow the light in through the cracks.

And someday, we’ll be able to look back on all of this and celebrate our collective strength and victory over the pandemic with joyous light and fireworks, but you don’t have to wait that long…

Today, celebrate your light. Celebrate your perseverance. Celebrate your life. Celebrate you.

____________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Letting The Light In” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on March 14, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries

Long Live The King

I awoke yesterday morning to pouring rain pelting the house and a slew of notifications that had nothing to do with COVID, the Yankees, or politics, notifications that stabbed my soul and made me audibly gasp with sorrow.

“Actor Chadwick Boseman dies from colon cancer at age 43”

Rarely does a celebrity’s passing shatter my core, although I freely admit I cried when Carrie Fisher, Chris Farley, Robin Williams, and Tom Petty died.

This one, though. 

This one walloped my heart hard as the clouds outside my window wept all day long.  

Not T’Challa.

T’Challa, the soft-spoken king who packs as much strength and fierceness as any of his fellow Avengers.

T’Challa, the wise and noble warrior with unmatched agility and one hell of a necklace.

T’Challa, one of many legendary and inspirational characters brought to life on the screen by the extraordinarily talented Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman grew up in South Carolina and wrote his first play when he was a junior in high school. He graduated from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing. As a college student, actress Phylicia Rashad not only was one of Boseman’s professors but also a mentor. She secured funds for him and fellow students who had been accepted to the prestigious Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London. 

After earning his degree, Boseman taught drama and wrote several more plays while securing small television roles. However, in 2013 he landed his breakout role as Jackie Robinson when he was cast as the trailblazing professional baseball player in the film 42.

The roles kept on coming, and over the course of the next seven years, he would portray several other characters, most notably Thurgood Marshall and James Brown.

So, that’s Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown.

Three strong African-American men who changed history portrayed by an African-American man who also changed history and redefined the word “hero.”

Then there’s The King.

King T’Challa, also known as Black Panther, a hero in every sense of the word whose inspiration transcends race, age, and gender.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw King T’Challa/Black Panther on screen. While I admired his dignified demeanor, his comforting accent, his care for his people, and his badass maneuvers, what made the biggest impact on me was the aura of goodness surrounding T’Challa that I could actually feel as I watched the movie, an aura undoubtedly created by Boseman through the phenomenal application of his craft. And every time I’ve seen T’Challa/Black Panther on a screen, I’ve experienced that same feeling.

And all the while, Boseman kept his diagnosis quiet. 

We’ve come to learn through his passing that, over the last four years, Boseman not only filmed ten films during and after surgeries and treatment, he visited children who were suffering from cancer while he quietly battled the disease himself.

Nobody knew.

Talk about noble.

Boseman spoke at the Howard University Commencement in 2018 at the height of his health battle. It’s an amazing speech in its own right, but as someone who has long struggled to find purpose, the speech’s closing speaks to my heart:

…You would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me, the path to my destiny.

You can read and/or view the entire speech here.

In the thousands of tributes posted within the last 36 hours, Chadwick Boseman was over and over referred to as the personification of grace and dignity.

That’s a perfect summation of this amazing human, who ironically passed away on Major League Baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day.

Death makes us all examine the trajectory of our own lives a little closer. When we choose to adjust our journey and live a better life as a result, that’s how we honor the legacy of those who made a difference in our lives and in our world.

I look at how Chadwick Boseman lived his life and all he accomplished despite the shitty hand that life dealt him. He never sought attention for himself but, instead, redirected the attention on others. He made people feel good about themselves and showed us what it meant to live in grace and goodness. 

Looking forward to my own future, I have no excuse for not aspiring to accomplish my goals. I will keep Chadwick Boseman’s inspirational example of dignity and perseverance close to my heart as I allow destiny to reveal the path to my purpose.

What better way to honor the legacy and the impact of a true King?

Thank you, Chapman Boseman. 

Rest in power, King.

Wakanda forever.

Wakanda forever, indeed.

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I am glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Long Live The King” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on August 30, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

The Blessings of “Un”-Summer

img_4560

Taken 7/13/2020 in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ

I’ve officially titled the summer of 2020 the “Un”-Summer as it’s been the strangest summer of all my forty-nine years.

But I don’t mind.

Summer is my season, face masks required or not. I’ve always been a summer girl, and despite the abnormalities of this particular summer, I’m reveling in its magnificence.

The sunshine and heat, the thunder and rain, the humidity with its accompanying brassiness… it’s all good in my book.

Days are longer, hair is messier, feet are bare, and the carefree feeling of summer is like no other.

Summer just brims with absolute goodness: nectarines and pluots and watermelon and berries and ice cream from the ice cream truck, pedaling around my neighborhood or up to the beach and back with the wind blowing through my hair, searching for tiny shells or sea glass along the ocean’s wash line with sand between my toes on an empty early morning beach with a friend, sipping my morning coffee outside while the birds and the crickets and the cicadas sing-sing-sing along with each other, reading and writing outside as a cool breeze caresses my face, observing the fireflies dance with each other as the sun goes to bed for the night, watching the plants blossom from seedlings into flowers and fruits and vegetables…

I still enjoy these summer blessings in light of our current circumstances.

To be honest, I think our current state of affairs has actually increased both my awareness of and appreciation for every summer moment and experience.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the freedom of going to an amusement park without a reservation and a face mask, having lunch at some of my favorite restaurants that are currently shuttered due to a lack of outside dining availability or comfort, or strolling the boardwalk in the early morning without worrying about someone passing within six feet of me.

But the overriding arch here is that IT IS SUMMER.

I will continue living in my own little bubble of summerhood where life is good and bask in the glory of each summer moment and every summer day with appreciation for every summer blessing.

One of my accomplishments during this unprecedented “un”-summer is a complete revision/overhaul to my novel, Chapter One-A Novel, and this time, it’s the real deal. Over the past two months, I painstakingly dissected the manuscript and examined every word and sentence to improve its flow, voice, and story. That is why I’ve been absent from posting here; I focused wholeheartedly on the revision and did not want to become distracted by writing anything else. My hard work paid off, and I am wholeheartedly proud of and believe in the manuscript I produced. Chapter One-A Novel is now worthy of representation and publication. Here’s my one-sentence pitch:

Kelly Lynch, the twenty-something protagonist of Chapter One-A Novel, navigates the seas of friendship and the storms of loss as she travels from the Jersey Shore to Dublin, Ireland on a journey of self-discovery.

I know the universe will lead me to the right opportunity to put it into the hands of readers everywhere.

I hope that your “un-summer” blesses you with joyous memories filled with too many smiles to count. It will, if you make the best of it.

cropped-img_0764 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“The Blessings of ‘Un’-Summer” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on July 19, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not compensated in any way by any entity. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marching Onward, With My Heart at the Forefront

Logo Color RedI slept until 6:45 AM this morning, although, in reality, it was 5:45 AM and the time I normally wake up. When you’re an early riser like me, March’s time change is of no consequence in the morning, although my eyelids will probably become heavy before the sun has completely gone to bed for the night until I adjust to the change.

An extra hour of sunlight at the back-end of the day. It’s one of my favorite harbingers of spring, along with dancing to the song of the spring peeper frogs as I waltz into school, which I did on Friday morning.

Even though it’s still technically winter, March has come in like a lamb along the Jersey Shore, and I’ll take it.

There’s always the possibility that a seemingly calm March can turn into a lion on a dime with Jack Frost busting in and riding that lion like a rodeo cowboy. However, the best thing about a March snowstorm is that it melts rather quickly.

Snow or no snow, light or dark, sunshine or rain, I’m all aquiver today.

Despite my best efforts and attempts to keep a positive outlook, the first two months of 2020 were emotionally difficult for me.

I dug out of the funk by adopting a new mindset: I dedicated myself to ME. Making myself the top priority in my life, along with incorporating lifestyle changes such as a regular and honest journaling practice, daily meditation, and yoga, has resulted in an awakening of massive proportions.

I’m experiencing life with a whole new level of awareness, one I never knew existed before, and it’s freaking amazing. I’ve got a new bounce in my step and a ridiculously stupid grin on my face as my heart now matters most.

My heart is simultaneously content and thrilled about the limitless possibilities that lie ahead of me, and my soul joyfully celebrates alongside my heart in camaraderie and sheer bliss.

I am now enlightened with a vision that will allow me to use my gifts and talents to serve others while as I follow the breadcrumbs I encounter along my path, ones I now see with absolute clarity.

Finally, I’ve found my dharma.

I am wholeheartedly devoting myself to my vision as I create it and give it life. As such, I’m looking for a few educators who would be willing to serve as beta-testers of my idea during the month of April. Should you be interested, please shoot me an email with your name, school name, and grade/subject you teach to jillocone@gmail.com.

Out of three ideas I have in my hopper, this particular vision will enact positive changes in the lives of fellow educators through leadership, support and encouragement, and if it proceeds as I envision, it will also shift the course of my future for the better.

I have a vision.

I have a plan.

I have a goal.

I have a purpose.

I am productive and focused.

And throughout it all, my heart will matter the most, as should yours.

cropped-img_0764 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Marching Onward, With My Heart at the Forefront” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on March 8, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not compensated in any way by any entity. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved.

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

snapseedThat sums up how I’ve stood my ground as I maneuver through a tempest created by magazine article and editorial deadlines hitting at the same time as a new semester begins with a dash of minor health-related nuisances thrown in to make things extra-interesting. I’ve used a little of this and a little of that to stay afloat while keeping in check and putting my emotional needs at the forefront.

I am now my biggest priority.

Returning to meditation and yoga helped re-shift focus on my well-being, and I am noticeably happier and more grounded. I’m enthusiastic despite my fatigue and optimistic despite setbacks. I might be a big old clumsy mess on the yoga mat, but I show up anyway. I’m grateful for finding an attentive teacher who goes out of her way to assist me as I re-enter the yoga scene after too long of an absence.

Balancing my deadlines and professional responsibilities while allowing pockets of time to write solely for myself and to be with loved ones has helped me keep positive and on-task. I am not becoming overwhelmed by what I “have to do” because I find time to do what I “want to do” and prioritize using a forward-looking mindset.

I also shifted my writing purpose and goals to sync with my intuition. With pride and with dignity, I made the difficult decision to no longer pursue publication of my novel titled Chapter One-A Novel. My heart finally listened to what my soul and my instinct have known for quite some time, that this particular manuscript is not meant to find its way onto book store or library shelves right now.

That doesn’t mean I am a failure or that I suck as a writer.

My four-year journey of writing Chapter One led me to an unexpected and new chapter involving three heartfelt creative projects besides learning how to sand and paint furniture: two additional manuscripts including a second novel and a non-fiction book, and something I will call “Phase 3.” The possibilities of “Phase 3,” which will allow me to serve and support others while using my talents, excite me to my core and I promise to share more about it when I’m ready.

I dedicate time every day to work on my projects and hope to complete two of them by the end of the year. I am writing the novel and the nonfiction book for me without thinking about an audience, and that shift in thought has made a notable improvement in my work.

Not getting what we wish for can lead us to what we were created for.

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that. It all adds up to living a purposeful and passion-filled life, and I’m on my way to doing just that.

cropped-img_0764 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on February 22, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.